LOCAL garlic farmers have been urged to increase exports riding on the growth of the global market which has expanded to US$2,48 billion in the past two decades, from US$500 million, according to ZimTrade.
The national trade development and promotion organisation said the number of local smallholder farmers with potential to export has been growing exponentially over the past few years.
“Currently, the interest generated by smallholder farmers, regardless of land size, is an indication that they have potential to contribute more to national exports.
“What is now crucial is identifying crops that are relatively high-value and can be produced by smallholder farmers on a commercial scale.
“Garlic is one of those crops,” said ZimTrade in a statement.
Garlic is easy to grow and can be produced in most parts of the country. It is less complicated in terms on crop management compared to other high-value crops, ZimTrade advised.
Capacity development will need to be considered, as the horticulture sector is one of the priority areas identified by the National Export Strategy, launched by President Mnangagwa in 2019.
Given the growing global demand for healthy foods because of the need to combat pandemic and chronic diseases, local farmers should take advantage, ZimTrade added.
“For local farmers, penetrating regional markets will be easy considering that Zimbabwean climatic conditions are favourable for agricultural produce that is considered to have more quality compared to competitors.
“Apart from exporting garlic as raw bulbs, there are opportunities to value-add and produce products such as garlic powder or mix with salt to produce garlic salt or garlic oil which some of our SMEs (Small to Medium Enterprises) are exporting to Botswana.”
Pickled garlic, garlic sauce, garlic vinegar, and garlic insecticides are other value-added products that local farmers can consider.
According to Trade Map, top importers of garlic last year were Indonesia (US$530 million), Brazil (US$225 million), United States of America (US$200 million), Malaysia (US$119 million), Russian Federation (US$76 million), Bangladesh (US$75 million), and Germany (US$70 million).
United Kingdom imported garlic worth US$61 million, Pakistan, (US$58 million), Italy (US$55 million), France (US$55 million), United Arab Emirates (US$52 ‘million), Saudi Arabia (US$52 million), Netherlands (US$51 million).
Total global imports of garlic grew by US$367 million in 2019, from US$2,1 billion recorded the previous year.
In 2019, total quantities imported around the world stood at two million tonnes.
“For Zimbabwe, figures available on Trade Map indicated that exports of garlic have been insignificant over the past few years, albeit potential to supply and dominate in regional and international market,” said ZimTrade.
From the top importers, local farmers have a shot at markets that are already taking Zimbabwean produce, which could provide a springboard for exporting garlic. Such markets include Indonesia, Netherlands, United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates.